Reveling in the glory and beauty of everyday life... all the mess and chaos of raising five little girls!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Navigating the Library

For a homeschooling mom, the library is an important resource. Whether building a curriculum out of library books or simply finding supplemental materials and "good" readers... having and using a library card is vital! I often wonder how moms with large families manage the library. Especially if they are using the library for key curriculum pieces that are needed at specific times.

Going to the library used to be easy. Even when Raina was tiny, I wore her in a carrier and we could spend an hour or two choosing books, reading them in the children's literacy area, playing with games or toys, or coloring pictures at the tot-sized tables. Now, it is a bit more of a challenge. Our library is under construction, which means the children's area is temporarily tiny, and there are very few toys or other activities for little ones to occupy themselves with. There isn't a reading area. And, my Raina-bean is no longer content in a carrier. :)

(this photo is almost a year old. But - that little Sandra Boynton book is still one of her favorites!)

Since it is still important, even if it's harder, I have had to develop a bit of a system for how our growing family uses the library. We usually have 20-30 books checked out at once, and we visit the library every three weeks. That means a bit of planning ahead. If I need a book about Nicaragua in three weeks, I need to check it now! That sort of planning can be a bit challenging for me. Usually, I select and reserve books online the night before we go. I have lists that correspond with Sadie's preschool units, and with our country studies (though we have been really lagging on those!). We also have general read-alouds that I compile from various reading lists (Honey for a Child's Heart, homeschool catalogs, etc.). I also select readers or early chapter books based on the 1st and 2nd grade reading lists from our homeschool catalogs. Then, when we enter the library, I grab that big stack off the hold shelf, and all we have to do is add to it!

I want our kids to read good literature. So I choose a lot of our books. However, I also give them freedom to choose books they enjoy - even if they are ones I think are sort of worthless twaddle (like the Arthur and DW series, which Sadie loves!). And I read the twaddle with a glad heart. :) Right now, the big girls are doing well with self-control in removing books from the shelves. I used to say they had to show me a book before they could take it off the shelf, but now they are allowed to choose five each and then we can look over them together. Elisa has her own card, and she usually likes to check out those "free" books herself. Last time she ended up with seven, because we found a series of readers we both like and she wanted more. Raina gets to stick with Mama as we browse or help the older girls find their "special" books. Last week I did have to veto one book. One of the girls picked up a brightly colored picture book called "Mom and Mum Get Married!" Yikes. Glad I caught that one before it came home with us!

We also have utilized the Inter-Library Loan option frequently - although that takes even more planning ahead because the books have to be mailed - usually from out of state.

Although the books get strewn about the house, their home-base is a basket in the living room. And - we have only ever lost one book. It was a year and a half ago and it was a tiny Bob reader that was a part of a seven book set. :)

Our system works for us. For now. I actually am planning on adding a couple hundred dollars to our school budget - to avoid dependency on the library for required resources. I am anticipating that trips to the library aren't necessarily going to get easier, and it will be nice to have what we need on hand.

What about you? Does anyone have tips on how their family uses the library? I am always so amazed when homeschool families are able to build curriculum that way. I think that would take a more organized mama than I!

(again, this is an old photo. But - the scene hasn't really changed. All three can be telling a different story and be happy.)